Tuesday, December 12, 2006

1789, 1989

I was just thinking last night about how much the world is different from what one might have expected in 1989. I remember back then thinking that now that communism has failed, the West can start to address some of its own internal problems. What we did not see, but what emerged, was an attempt to identify and fight against a new adversary, to make them out to be just as bad as the communists.

In the 1990s, some political elites began identifying the Middle East and Islamic societies as our new enemies. We made ourselves the self-appointed missionaries to bring about regime change in those societies, to make them into democratic regimes. Now, we are starting to think that unless we spread democracy everywhere in the Middle East, all of our efforts will have been in vain. There are some who are arguing, for example, that we have to go for double or nothing in the Middle East. If things are not going well in Iraq, we should punish Iran. We will either win it all, or lose it all.

Thus, our mentality is getting to be very much like the mentality of the French Revolutionaries, who, by 1795 decided that the only way to preserve the Revolution was to make all of Europe like the new French Regime. This plunged Europe into twenty years of war, and paved the way for the revolutionary movements of the 19th and 20th Century, and much, much more.

Reports are coming to us every day that we are in the midst of a 30 year conflict. This Sunday, a New York Times columnist compared our situation to the 30 year war. The revolutionary conflict in France lasted most of the 19th Century, and perhaps persists to this day in Europe. These weeks are important times for us all.


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